ROCKFORD (WREX) — Shots fired in the city of Rockford are up 19% compared to the same time last year, while victims struck is up 29%.
"We're slipping from last year, we had a pretty good year last year trending down," says Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea. "We're trying to nip it in the bud if you will. Trying to correct the down slide. We're seeing too much gun violence. It's creeping up and we need to get it going back the other way."
But when you look back at the last five years, you'll notice a trend. According to RPD as of June 22nd it recorded 236 shots fired and 51 victims struck by gunfire. While that's an increase over 2019, it's lower than 2016,2017, and 2018. In addition, Rockford police say violent crime overall has also dropped in those years.
"Since 2016 we've continued downward with violent crime through 2019," says O'Shea. "We had a good long break with no homicides from [a period of] 2019 to 2020."
O'Shea says there's no clear reason for what's caused the decline in gunfire over the years or the reason the city has seen a slight uptick this year. For now, he's focused on the relationships he hopes will stop the uptick in its tracks.
"The only way we stop the increase in the violence is the community and the police department working together," says O'Shea. "147,000 live here and need to work together with us to put the violent criminals, arrest them, get the guns off the street, and put us back on the path for success."
O'Shea adds that nationally, a number of cities are seeing an uptick in crime in 2020. While there's no clear reason why this is happening, he says a number of experts are pointing to COVID-19 related stressors and issues.